Their ancestors rode into battle across America, hauled wagons, pulled plows, and provided meat and the raw materials for products like glue and dog food. The horses in front of me, born on this lava-rock crusted high desert in far Northern California, had no idea that the small group of humans at this September “gather” had planned to find them loving homes and a life of fresh hay, warm barns and veterinary care.
To them, we were as dangerous as the 200-pound mountain lion that had recently developed a taste for Devil’s Garden foals. For years, I’ve been wanting to write about these horses and the wild herds that have grown to unsustainable levels across rang elands and Western deserts.
I sat there in the dirt watching those skittish horses, itchy nonnative medusa head grass creeping under my shirt. Every once in a while, someone will find a deer, a lamb or a calf that’s still alive, even though coyotes have eaten the flesh off its hindquarters.
Hardly the concentration camps advocates describe when they talk about what happens to these horses after one of these roundups. “How do you get the attention of the public who doesn’t want to see past the romance?” she asked as her gaze locked mine under her dusty gray baseball cap.
Ed,” films like “Bambi” and living increasingly in subdivisions instead of on farms changed the way Americans thought of animals. Mustangs, in turn, came to symbolize the romance of the rugged American West, popularized by the hundreds of Western movies and television shows of that era.
In 1961, “The Misfits,” starring Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, featured down-and-out cowboys in Nevada lassoing terrified wild mustangs to sell to dog food factories. “Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene,” the act reads.
The law requires that wild, free-roaming horses and burros “be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.” The number of horses and burros on BLM land is three times higher than the landscape can sustainably support, according to the agency.
Scientific studies have shown overpopulated horse herds cause major damage to the deserts they inhabit. The federal government says it will cost to get the herds down to manageable levels and to care for the animals when they’re captured.
Since federal authorities are prohibited from euthanizing the horses or selling them directly to slaughter, these herds must get adopted or sold for a small fee. It’s much harder to find an owner with the horsemanship skills and resources to care for an aging mare or stallion whose first instinct is to tear through a fence or kick someone’s head in.
The same overpopulation problems plague the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory, managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The feds in 2013 set a population management goal of no more than 402 adult horses on the territory’s 258,000 acres.
Federal officials say it could have been an under count, given the difficulty of spotting horses inside the hilly juniper forests, unlike in the open deserts elsewhere in the West. For decades before they were federally protected in the 1970s, ranchers actively managed the “wild” Devil’s Garden herds, taking stock out and adding new animals to get desirable genetic lines, and even renting out horses to fellow farmers.
That makes Devil’s Garden horses easier to adapt to a life in captivity than the mustangs elsewhere in the West, some of which can trace their ancestry to stock Spanish explorers brought to America in the 16th and 17th centuries. DNA analyses show the Devil’s Garden herd contains traces of 200 types of horse breeds, but none from Spanish mustangs, said Ken Sandusky, a spokesman for the MOOC National Forest.
Because they’re from more docile breeds and have only gone a few decades without some form of human handling, people line up to take one home, even the older horses. Only 12 of the horses, less desirable because of their age or their common coloration, gathered last year remained in the Devil’s Garden corrals.
Even after this year’s roundup took 506 of them off the range, the population is estimated at over 1,000 adult animals, more than twice the number that this troubled landscape can support. Wild horses run as they are herded up Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Devil’s Garden in the MOOC National Forest.
Out here, the ranchers who have a permit to graze cattle are required to build barbed wire fences to keep their livestock out of some protected springs that bubble up from the lava rock. These permanent riparian areas are critical to the long-term survival of native wildlife in this high desert.
The fences, which deer and elk are able to leap, must have a smooth wire along the bottom to allow local pronghorn antelope, which can’t jump very well, and smaller animals to crawl under. At one site I visited, the horses pushed down the barbed wire, shearing many of the metal T-posts off at the base.
“This site should be surrounded by vegetation,” said Sandusky, the MOOC National Forest’s public affairs officer. Sandusky told me in other parts of the forest, the horses had trampled less-rocky springs so much that they had actually stopped flowing.
Ken Sandusky, a spokesman for the MOOC National Forest, looks at a headwaters spring where the native grasses were trampled and eaten by horses on Sept. 11, 2020. Horse hooves trampling wetlands like these are bad news for fairy shrimp, a unique species of crustacean that hatch in seasonal Devil’s Garden “vernal pools” that bloom to life after the spring thaw.
In the mid-20th century, there were close to 45,000 animals in what’s known as the interstate mule deer herd that winters on the Devil’s Garden. As Sandusky and I walked around the hoof-stomped oasis, we spotted small groups of horses that had come to drink and graze on what was left of the grass.
Each year, some 26,537 cattle graze on the MOOC National Forest under 82 federal permits issued to ranchers. The Forest Service defends the practice, saying it’s obligated under federal law to allow grazing.
At a conference in Reno last year, San Sliver, the sagebrush initiative coordinator with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, saw just how emotional wild horse advocates get at the prospect of their beloved animals getting surgically mutilated. There, a veterinarian gave a talk about how he and a few colleagues could spay 40 mares in an afternoon using a livestock “squeeze chute.” Each procedure would take 15 minutes and the horses would be fully mobile and ready to return to the range within a couple of hours.
Sliver thought it was a good compromise that could quickly limit the number of horses while allowing them to live out their days in the wild. Even if sterilization works, the horses still have to live out here in the elements, without reliable food and veterinary care, the prospect of a miserable, indifferent death around every bend and hill.
I have little doubt, despite a federal ban on horse-meat slaughterhouses and new wild horse owners being required since the 1980s to sign affidavits saying they won’t sell their animals for slaughter. During the years the government fought the suit, putting roundups on hold, the population had more than doubled to 2,246.
In late November, a month after the round-up chopper quit flying, I returned to the Garden on a morning when temperatures had dipped to the low 20s, so I could watch a group of 4-H kids come with their families to pick out horses they were going to adopt in the coming weeks, as part of a program that gives the kids first pick after a gather. The horses were still a touch skittish and moved into the opposite end of the pens from the families who peered through the corral fences.
At one point, one of the foals walked up to sniff the outstretched hand of 9-year-old Mason Seville, who’d come up from the Los Gatos area to find his horse. Ryan Sallow covers environment, general news and enterprise and investigative stories for McCarthy’s Western newspapers.
Before joining The Bee in 2015, he was a reporter at The Auburn Journal, The Redding Record Searchlight and The Indianapolis Star. Being in the barn grooming, feeding, and otherwise caring for our horses reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and improves overall health.
Yet, it is the companionship with our equine partners that is the foundation of our growth in relationship to these animals. According to PATH International, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, there are many types of “equine-assisted activities.” In its broadest sense, any interaction between a person and a horse is an equine-assisted activity.
It is a treatment which uses horses to reach rehabilitative goals that are bounded by a medical professional’s scope of practice. Equine-Assisted Therapy is not an activity run by local horse clubs, church groups, or trainers.
Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy, which is used by addiction treatment facilities, veterans’ groups, and trauma centers, is always overseen by a licensed mental health professional. Addicts, the population I work with, often exclaim, “They’re so big!” Indeed, as all horse-people know, trying to get a thousand-pound animal to do what you want is no easy task.
Because of these qualities, horses can be used to help people heal from a variety of psychological issues. Addicts and other trauma survivors have to learn how to identify their emotions in order to work through them.
Perhaps a plastic bag blows into the arena during a session, startling the horses. A client who has experienced child or domestic abuse might break down in tears upon seeing the horses frightened.
Any of these kinds of reactions is rich material for talk therapy and can be worked through immediately or in future sessions. We earn wages to buy feed and tack and maintain horse properties.
Whether it is raising children or going to an office, factory, or running a business, we get up early and show up on time. We listen to our friends, show up for our families, and provide service to our communities.
Working hard and showing up in a healthy way are skills that can be learned by engaging with horses. One common treatment technique for those who were abused as children is to put the (now adult) individual in with a large horse and allow them to interact.
Very often, the person will break down in tears and say something like, “I’ve never been treated this kindly by anything so big.” This is an experience the client can then take into the human world. Equine-Assisted Therapy, particularly Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy, can have positive results for those who are recovering from substance abuse, trauma, depression, or a number of other psychological issues.
It can help individuals develop a work ethic, identify and process feelings, and learn how to trust. The professionalism of those engaged with equine therapies is what makes them both effective and safe.
The Outer Banks is home to several herds that are descended from Spanish mustangs brought over to North America by the conquistadors about 500 years ago. The easiest place to see some of these wild horses is at the north end of Crack Island, where the National Park Service maintains a small herd of “banker ponies” in a large fenced-in range.
Turner/Shutterstock Montana and Wyoming are excellent places to appreciate the wide open spaces and natural beauty of North America, including that of some unique wild horses. These horses live mostly in the Pryor Mountains, a range that extends from Billings, Montana, in the north to Lovell, Wyoming, in the south.
It is a fact that horses are also capable of making a great pet, just like in fairy tales and royal families. The relationship of horses and humans is going on for a time now and dogs are considered to be the best animals which are capable of being extremely close to a person.
Here are some quite cute and amazing pictures of horses which show these animals at their prime beauty. Some people also believe in the fact that the horse is the most beautiful and graceful animal living on this planet.
All horses are beautiful, but this gallery of unique stallions and mares take majestic to a whole new level. With an unbelievably shiny coat that appears to be metallic in the sun, the Akhil Take is the national emblem of the country of Turkmenistan.
It's pretty easy to see how some folks confuse these beauties for Appaloosas, though their markings are often more saturated! All I know is that his mane and tail PERFECTLY compliment his super shiny coat.
Easily recognized for their leg feathering and common black and white or “piebald”coat color, the Blue Roan version of the beautiful Gypsy horse is considered most rare. Lush locks and an extraordinarily bold coat make this horse a regular show-stopper, but perhaps unique are the star-shaped dapples on his front end.
Horses are one of the most majestic creatures to ever run on this planet. If you’ve ever ridden on a horse, then you know all about the amazing bond that can exist between human and equine.
), or even creatures you may come across (Bumblebee, Wasp, Sparrow) can help you come up with a great name. Racehorse names have a unique style of their own, and watching old races, hearing the announcers calling our the names, can lead you to think of a name you would never have thought of on your own.
Horses all have very different personalities, so when you take a deep look into those sweet, pretty eyes, what do you see? Using their personalities can really help when trying to think of perfect horse names.
Stallions are majestic animals who deserve a classic, masculine name. Horses are beautiful, elegant creatures, so when choosing a name for your mare, focus on the things that are most beautiful...
Native American Indian Horse Names Horses were brought to America by the Spanish in the 1600s, and spread through the plains.
Tie a string with a name on it to the top of each carrot, then offer them to your horse. Whichever carrot he or she crunches down on first is the winner.
Write down names on strips of paper and place one in each balloon. Blow up the balloons with helium and tie them to the fence.
You've seen those videos of horses playing with giant balls, right? Have some hoopla hoops laid out around the paddock, each one designating a different name.
I love fancy names like Starlights Promise, Twilights Justice, Whispering Silver, Sunlights Freedom and so on, for more simple I like names like Phantom, Sun dance, Bold Streak, and King of the Wind is always a big hit. Read Marguerite Henry's horse books! I thought of Lucky Pluck, as in resolute effort.
I'm writing a horse story, any good names? I like the name Rickety Rocket, All that Jazz, and Curious Charity for race horse names.
My friend just got a 21-year-old Tennessee walker, she’s a black and white paint! For 2 Thoroughbred fast racehorse names, King and Queen.
Please. Help to find my horse name in RP words. I'm getting a Tennessee walker, through bred,Morgan.its black and brown and it's tail starts black and ends in a reddish color.
If I had a horse I would name it Lady as a girl and Hero as a boy These are some beautiful names that the jockey club allowed.
Hey, another name to add to the ‘alcohol list’ would be Rosé like the wine! If he finished in ten seconds, then Gestapo was his name.
This helped me a lot I love these funny names a good one would be Jet! Their tremendous beauty and power make them an animal that perfectly embodies America: they are strong, stunning, and free.
Percheron horses first appeared during the Middle Ages, when Europeans began breeding Arab stallions with mares in La Perch, France. They were employed as draft horses on farms, often doing the jobs that would later be executed by powerful machines.
Percheron horses usually stand at six or seven feet tall, and can weigh as much as 2,600 pounds! Percheron horses are still used by some organic farmers in lieu of gasoline-powered equipment to make for a greener experience.